BERKELEY, Calif. - Jeff Kobernus’ RBI single with one out in the bottom of the ninth completed a two-run rally to lead Cal to a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt Monday afternoon at Evans Diamond.
The Commodores took a 3-2 lead into the ninth with closer Russell Brewer (0-1) on the mound. Brewer struck out Brian Guinn before Brett Jackson doubled over leftfielder Joey Manning’s head to put the tying run in scoring position. Pinch hitter Austin Booker hit a soft grounder to third that Jason Esposito fielded and threw wide of first allowing Jackson to score to tie the game. Booker moved to third on the errant throw and then scored on Kobernus’ single to right-center.
“I told the kids that was a tough pill to swallow,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “The ironic thing was that the only reason we were in the game was because we played great defense in innings 1-8. The pitching was good, but if you only get one hit after the third inning you are playing with fire.”
Vanderbilt fell to 1-3 on the year with all three losses by one run. Cal improved to 2-2 with the win in the first ever meeting between the two schools on the baseball diamond.
For the third time in four games to start the year, VU took the first lead of the game with two runs in the first. Brian Harris was hit by a pitch to lead off the game by Cal starter Brian Diemer. Andrew Giobbi followed with a double down the right field line, his first extra base hit of the year. Curt Casali’s RBI groundout scored Harris and Aaron Westlake followed with another RBI groundout to score Giobbi.
Sean Bierman gave up one run and scattered six hits over six innings of work with five strikeouts and two walks in the no-decision.
“The reason we stayed in the game was because of our defense,” said Bierman on his start. “I felt comfortable with my curveball and tried to keep the ball down.”
Cal threatened in the fourth, loading the bases on three consecutive hits with one out in the stanza. Bierman then got Matt Flemer to ground into a double play to end the threat.
The Bears got on the board in the sixth, courtesy of a two-out solo homer by Mark Canha, his second of the year.
Cal tied it in the seventh on Jeff Kobernus’ RBI single to left field. VU’s Taylor Hill came on in relief of Bierman and struck out the first batter he faced. Brian Guinn and Brett Jackson hit back-to-back singles, before Hill struck out Michael Brady for the second out of the inning. Kobernus then singled through the left side to score Guinn and tie the game. Richie Goodenow came on with runners at first and second and got cleanup hitter Blake Smith to fly out to center to end the inning.
Brian Harris put the Commodores ahead in the eighth scoring from third on a wild pitch. Harris had a one out single to left and stole second when Andrew Giobbi struck out for the second out of the inning. Casali was hit by Diemer to end the Cal starter’s day. Erik Johnson came in and promptly walked Aaron Westlake to load the bases. Johnson then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Harris to score the go ahead run.
Freshman hurler Sonny Gray came on in the bottom of the eighth and hit Dylan Tonneson to lead off the inning. Mark Canha advanced Tonneson to second on a sac bunt and Rich Gorman’s grounder to second put the tying run at third. Gray ended the threat though, striking out pinch hitter Danny Oh on a high fastball for the third out.
The Commodores will take a red-eye flight back to Nashville tonight and will open their 2009 home campaign against Western Kentucky on Wednesday at 4 pm.